Massage Therapist

How To Become A Massage Therapist

Massage Therapy is an interesting and diverse career with applications in both relaxing and clinical settings. Those seeking a career in massage therapy must first determine the steps necessary to fulfill the licensing requirements in their home state. For an in depth look, check out Massage

Massage Therapy REQUIREMENTS

Licensing requirements for massage therapists are varied. While a few states, such as Vermont, Alaska, and Oklahoma do not currently require licenses in order to practice massage, the majority of states have certain criteria that must be met prior to qualification as a licensed or certified massage therapist. All states that issue licenses to their massage therapists have as part of their requirements a minimum number of classroom hours. The number of hours needed generally averages approximately 500, but can be up to 750 in states like Ohio and North Dakota, and in the case of New York, can be as many as 1,000 hours. While apprenticeships are recognized in some states, these classroom hours are generally completed at licensed and board accredited schools.

Massage Therapy SCHOOLS and Programs

Selecting the right school is crucial to the process of become a licensed massage therapist. First, the school must be credentialed within the state in which the student intends to hold a license. Schools not licensed by the state and approved by the board of massage therapy cannot issue a recognized diploma, and classes taken at such schools will not qualify the student to sit for the necessary licensing examinations. Second, it is important to find a school which offers class schedules that are a good fit for the student. Massage therapy training is detailed, extensive, and requires the full attention of the student. Class schedules that frequently conflict with work or other obligations can make the training process more difficult.

Once a school has been selected, financial issues should be considered. Tuition can cost thousands of dollars. If the school meets certain criteria, it may offer federal grants, scholarships, or loans. If not, other programs, such as deferment and tuition assistance are often available. A student seeking financial aid for massage therapy training should seek the assistance of a school’s financial counselor.

After enrollment of a new class, there is often an orientation which introduces the students to the program requirements and schedule of classes. While the specific number of hours–and some of the classes–may vary from state to state, the curriculum will generally include certain essential courses.

Massage Therapist TRAINING

The training necessary to become a massage therapist in most states is divided into two categories: hands-on, or practical courses, and book-learning, or theory classes. The practical classes teach basic modalities, or styles of massage, that are essential to the career of a new massage therapist. Swedish massage teaches basic massage techniques, and the purpose of each technique. Swedish massage is generally taught in conjunction with musculoskeletal anatomy, which teaches the muscles, their attachment sites, and their purpose. These classes are often followed by a study of neuromuscular therapy, or NMT. This class is designed to teach pain relief and rehabilitative massage, and is accompanied by anatomy and physiology training, which is a more in-depth study of the body and its functions.

Beyond the core classes, coursework varies from state to state, but massage therapy students must also take classes in business, state law, ethics, and medical errors. Students are taught proper documentation techniques, and receive CPR, first aid, and other health related training. Also, many states require a certain number of hours of supervised practical application, and students fulfill this requirement during their coursework in the form of student clinics, where the general public is invited to receive massage from the students under instructor supervision.

Once the students have fulfilled all the requirements for graduation, they will receive a diploma from the school, and will be eligible to sit for any examination required by their state. Most states use the NCETMB (National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork), which is a detailed and difficult examination covering all subjects studied in the massage therapy program.

Massage Therapy JOBS

The job opportunities for licensed massage therapists are varied, and often depend on the therapist’s strengths. Those skilled in relaxation techniques often do well in spa-style settings, such as salons, resorts, and cruise ships. Those inclined toward medical massage often thrive in clinical settings, such as chiropractic and physical therapy offices. In either case, many therapists choose to work independently by setting up offices or making house calls.

Massage Therapy SALARY

Just as job options vary for massage therapists, so too does salary. Many spas and salons offer commission percentages or the option for the therapist to rent space for a set amount per month and keep the remainder of their fees. Clinical settings often pay hourly or per patient seen. Those who work independently have the ability to set their on fees, but must cover their own expenses as well. The average annual income for a massage therapist is $35,920.

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